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Real Moms, Real Kids: Teaching Active Children

Real Moms, Real Kids: Teaching Active Children with Jenny Herman - All About Learning Press

Teaching active children can definitely be an adventure, but it’s a wonderful adventure! Today we have the privilege of chatting with Janna*, a homeschool mom who uses All About Reading and All About Spelling with her two very active boys.

I first met Janna online via Facebook. Isn’t it interesting how you can get to know someone’s personality through online chats? From our interactions, I knew that Janna was a sincere, hardworking homeschool mom.

Janna’s husband works long hours, and they are a one-car family, so Janna spends a lot of one-on-one time with her seven- and nine-year-old boys. It always makes me chuckle to see photos of the boys, often shirtless, running around their 950-square-foot apartment, burning off energy by engaging in very physical games.

I asked Janna if she’d share with us how she’s able to use AAR and AAS with such active offspring.

Here’s Janna:

Marie is right: my boys are great big bundles of energy! Here’s how I make All About Reading and All About Spelling work in our homeschool.

  • I teach reading and spelling in my bedroom on the bed. I set the white board on the bed and my sons either stretch out on the bed or sit on an exercise ball next to the bed. Why do I teach in my bedroom? So I can close the door and shut out distractions. While I teach one son, the other one works on school work in a different subject in another part of our apartment.

    Real Moms, Real Kids: Teaching Active Kids with Jenny Herman
  • I store my materials in the bottom drawer of my dresser. We don’t have a lot of storage in our apartment. I used to keep our school materials in a desk drawer in the living room, but usually ended up leaving the materials out on the trunk in my room. That makes my room look messier. Then it dawned on me—just put it in your dresser since you always teach in here anyway! Our magnetic white board gets stowed on its side between the dresser and the wall.

    Real Moms, Real Kids: Teaching Active Kids with Jenny Herman
  • Sometimes I allow snacks and stuffed animals during lessons. It all depends on their level of self-control on a particular day. It’s hard to concentrate on learning something new when you’re hungry. And if the stuffed animal wants to read, hey, it’s extra practice!

  • Even though I’m a mom of a special needs child (my oldest has Asperger’s), at this point my boys are great readers and pretty good spellers. They don’t have a lot of struggles understanding the information. Their biggest struggles are focus and cooperation. My biggest struggle is patience. When he’s building words, my Aspie loves to make the letter tiles crash into each other with loud sound effects. It can take for-e-ver and it drives me crazy. But if I stop and think about it, does it really matter? He’s practicing his skills and he’s still learning. I sometimes employ a tip from Merry, AALP’s customer service superstar. She limited her son’s “tile crashing” to a certain number of words. Then both parties win.


  • My Aspie and I have learned to compromise. When we started All About Spelling Level 3, I reminded him of the sequence of spelling a word with tiles, starting with segmenting and dragging one tile at a time. He got very upset and I couldn’t understand why. He explained, “It makes me feel like a little boy.” So I told him we could skip that step for now, but if the words get harder for him, we may go back to that later.
  • Another trick I employ is one that an AALP mom shared with me. She combines the 15 minutes for spelling and 20 minutes for reading into a single 35-minute session. Some days more may be spent on spelling and less on reading, other times vice versa. As a result, if one subject has a harder concept one day and needs a bit more time, the other can be light. I’ve started to use a timer to keep me from frustrating the boys with the temptation to “just finish this little bit more.”
  • Depending on the day’s energy level, sometimes I have my sons do jumping jack breaks between reading and spelling.
  • Sometimes I try to come up with different ways to review spelling words. I still need to get better at this. Writing is hard for both my boys, but they’re good at spelling. I have let them draw their words in a tray of colored sugar. They’ve also typed their words on the computer or written them on a white board. I just bought some colored sand to try out an idea from the AALP Pinterest boards. I hope to find even more ways for them to practice besides on paper. Anything to keep these busy boys happy!
  • With my youngest, we had to take a few months off from reading in the beginning. Since he’d already been reading three-letter words, I thought he was ready to learn how to read. But when we started with Level 1, he was having lots of letter reversals and confusion. After much frustration for both of us, I decided perhaps he wasn’t as ready as I thought. We took two or three months off, and when we started up again he had much less trouble.

I hope some of these ideas will help you as you personalize All About Reading and All About Spelling in your own homeschool!

Here’s What I Love about Janna’s Story

These points about homeschooling a child with an abundance of energy really stood out to me:

  • Janna doesn’t let lack of space or transportation deter her from doing a great job homeschooling her boys.
  • She recognizes her boys’ need to burn off energy.
  • She has found a place in her bedroom to organize the curriculum and teach her kids, and she is able to shut her bedroom door to block out distractions.

Products Janna Uses with Josh and Noah:

Did you enjoy Janna’s story? Read more stories in our Real Moms, Real Kids series.

Teaching Active Children: Tips Recommended by Our Readers

  • We bought a swing that hangs in a door frame, and my daughter swings in that while I am reading to her. When it is nice outside, I sit on the front porch and read to her when she rides her scooter up and down the driveway. (Recommended by Carrie A. via Facebook)
  • My kids love to jump rope while spelling the words. (Recommended by Kim A. via Facebook)
  • We do short segments of school and some trampoline jumping in between—and healthy snacks while we’re studying. (Recommended by Rebecca H. via Facebook)
  • I allow my children to stand during school, unless they are doing handwriting pages. (Recommended by Judy L. via Facebook)
  • We use an exercise ball to sit on. (Recommended by Sara D. via Facebook)
  • Do some exercises mid-morning! (Recommended by Noel G. via Facebook)
  • Cut the fluency sheets into strips. Make a paper chain with the strips as your child reads them. (Recommended by Kim via blog comment)
  • Spell outside on the driveway with chalk. (Recommended by Lisa via blog comment)
  • Shoot flashcards with a nerf gun when they reads them correctly. (Recommended by Cassandra M. via blog comment)
  • Hide word cards around the house for your child to find. (Recommended by Nicole M. via blog comment)
  • Place word cards on the stairs for your child to read as he goes up and down the stairs. (Recommended by Bekki via blog comment)
  • Jump on a mini trampoline while spelling words. (Recommended by Erica K. via blog comment)
  • To review words, scatter letter notecards around the room and have your child jump from letter to letter to spell words. Also works outside with sidewalk chalk! (Recommended by Cookie via blog comment)

_________________________
*To preserve the privacy of the child featured in this story, we did not use the family’s real names.

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Leave a Comment

Peggy Andrus

says:

Awesome. I totally agree with all of this

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Peggy!

Rita Guihan

says:

I let my early learners chose between paper/pencil, white board, slate/chalk, paper/ colored pencil. Sometimes I let them write the same word 3x – 1xrainbow with every letter a different color, 1xwith balls attached to the letters, 1x with faces.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rita,
How much fun would this be! I know my kids love to decorate their words at times. Thank you for sharing this idea.

Bethany

says:

Awesome ideas! I’m Starting to tutor a 10yo boy who hasn’t had a great experience learning to read. I want to keep it fun and engaging and build a positive experience.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sounds like you have a great plan, Bethany!

Megan Thomas

says:

What great ideas! It helps to know that learning does not have to occur seated at a desk.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Megan,
Yes! There are lots of way to learn desk-free. Spelling review with sidewalk chalk outside is one of my children’s favorites.

Erin Rodriguez

says:

Great ideas!

Maya

says:

I found such good suggestions in the post and the comments. I think implementing some more active ways o doing our AAR and AAS lessons will make my children happy. We only use a white board for spelling. I think that the handwriting practice on paper is enough for K and 1st grade. But I will try chalk on the driveway now that the weather is so nice. And some more jumping. Jumping is always good. :-)

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

The comments are such a treasure trove of information! I’m glad you have found helpful suggestions for your children!

Ginny H

says:

Great ideas; thank you!

Cookie

says:

I have a rambunctious 7 year old boy who, though a creative storyteller, is a reluctant writer. To review words, I’ll let him jump from letter to letter with notecards we’ve scattered on the ground. Also works outside with sidewalk chalk :)

Robin

says:

I’m late reading this, but enjoyed it! My kids are very active too. :) What we do is a little unorthodox but it works. My son does fine spelling with the letter tiles but gets really fidgety and gradually deteriorates with writing out words. Sometimes we use sand or cornmeal but if I pull out the marker, I also get out his scooter board (the little square of plastic with four wheels). After each word, I throw the marker across the room and he has to scooter to get it and bring it back. The first time I did it, it was because I was so frustrated I felt like throwing something so did and told him to fetch it, but it worked so well that now it’s part of our routine. We also will alternate gymnastics and spelling. “Put up the letter tiles and then I’ll time you to see how long you can hold a hand stand.” I sometimes feel a little crazy, but it works for my very active son!

Deana

says:

Thanks for sharing. It’s good to know I’m not the only one dealing with bundles of energy and it’s okay if school looks a little different with these energetic kids.

Deana,
“School” can look so different in different homes, or even in the same home with different kids. I’m glad this blog post was encouraging to you.

Have a great week.

Dawn Johnston

says:

This is great advice! My kids have a ton of energy and it can be very trying for them and me to sit down and focus on a lesson. This is just the thing I needed.

Dawn,
I’m glad you found this post helpful. Active kids can be somewhat more difficult to teach, but it can also be so much fun.

I hope you have a lovely week.

Alia K.

says:

I have a ton of little boys so this post definitely resonates with me! I’m always looking for good ideas to help them learn and without stifling their need to burn off energy.

Alia,
These movers and shakers definitely keep us on our toes, huh? I get tired sometimes just looking at my wiggly one.

This article has a long list of kinesthetic ideas for spelling practice, and many of them would be easily adapted for things other than spelling too. http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-use-kinesthetic-spelling-activities

Have a great weekend!

Maria Nelson

says:

Good read as I’m evaluating beginning the reading and spelling program in tandem.

Tiffany Weber

says:

I’m new to homeschooling and my active son is enjoying the AAS but it’s nice to mix it up a bit. I LOVE the ideas here. Especially the nerf gun one!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Ha, ha! Well, what’s not to love about Nerf guns, right? :)

Renee M

says:

Thank you so much for this post. We have just switched to All about Spelling for our very active daughter!

Rebecca

says:

We love both AAR and AAS here. We haven’t been as good as I’d like about getting through the levels but that has been more for momma’s exhaustion level than the kiddos. Trying to get better about it as baby girl gets older.

Lida

says:

It’s great to get some inspiration on how to get organized.

brenda

says:

this program is, by FAR, the MOST helpful, easy to implement, comprehensible spelling program I have seen in my 12 years of homeschooling.

I HIGHLY recommend it to all new (and seasoned) homeschool moms I meet.

Brenda,
Thank you so much for such high praise!

Since you are recommending All About Spelling already, you may want to check out our affiliate program. http://allaboutlearningpress.net/go.php?id=103&url=10

I hope you have a lovely week.

Crystal

says:

Thanks for the tips! I just finished my first year of homeschooling, and am still trying to find a truly productive system.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I hope you find a system that works perfect for you, Crystal. Finding what works for your homeschool is worth the time and effort you put into it!

Etudiant

says:

Thanks for the great tips! I think exercise goes hand-in-hand with effective learning for all kids.

shumi

says:

these are good tips to use with my two energetic sons. i let them run around the apartment like a track field and they love it because they say they are exercising like their father.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Like father, like sons! :) Sounds like a great way to burn off some excess energy!

Kim

says:

As a mom to 4 very energetic littles and living in a small space, this post has so many great ideas for dealing with both! Thank you!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Kim!

Michelle S

says:

Love AAS! Best spelling program ever!

Gina Hilton

says:

These are fabulous tips that I will take from and use with my highly energetic eight year old son. Thank you!

Jessica S

says:

Thanks for the tips. It is always helpful to hear tips from other moms with boys and special needs boys at that.

Connie

says:

I have my kids run laps around the kitchen table after spelling words correctly or finishing a few problems on their worksheet. Burns off energy and keeps them guessing when the next lap will be.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Way to keep your kids on their toes, Connie! I love that your kids wait and anticipate that next moment of burning rubber in the kitchen!

Lisa

says:

All About Spelling is great for visual learners.

Karli Mason

says:

AAR and AAS are just what I have been looking for. I can’t wait to get started!

Rebekah Robinson

says:

This looks great! I think it would work well with many types of learners.

Kimberly

says:

Love this idea

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